Green MPs caged to demand release of Park Hotel refugees

There are 32 refugees still locked up in the Park Hotel.

A handful of Green MPs showed solidarity with refugees at the Park Hotel in Melbourne by locking themselves in a cage on Wednesday.

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam, was joined by Ellen Sandell, Sam Hibbins, and Dr Tim Read as the four registered ‘freedom cage‘ – an activist installation parked outside the hotel in Carlton. Previous visitors include former Socceroos coach Craig Foster, Bishop Philip Huggins and author Arnold Zable.

There are currently 32 Medevac refugees being held indefinitely at the Park Hotel after nine years in detention in Australia and overseas. The building attracted international attention in January after tennis player Novak Djokovic was temporarily detained there due to a medical dispute over being vaccinated with his visa ahead of the Australian Open.

It costs taxpayers more than $56,000 for Park Hotel to detain refugees every night, with Labor Senator Kristina Keneally express in february that it would be $19 million a year cheaper to release men from community custody.

Home Secretary Karen Andrews said last month that they could not be released for ‘various reasons’, including character issues and health issues, but claimed the Morrison government was working with the US and New Zealand to explore resettlement options abroad.

A month before that, Hobart City Council moved a motion to offer their state as an alternative location to settle Park Hotel refugees in the community, on a majority vote.

“Dozens of refugees have been cruelly detained in Melbourne for years now, and our state and federal governments have done nothing about it,” Ratnam said.

“We urge the Premier of Victoria to plead with the Prime Minister for the immediate release of the 32 men currently locked up in the Park Hotel,” she said. “The inaction of our Premier and Premier to date has been nothing short of inhumane.”

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